Local man forms ‘Bucket Brigade’ for firefighter museum

The Rev. Ron Baker, left, retired pastor of the Southside Baptist Church in Fulton, Tuesday donated several years of accumulated pennies to a fund to finance a museum at the Missouri Fireman’s Memorial at Kingdom City. With him are Rodney Bax, center, of Bank Star One where the pennies were counted and Fulton Asssistant Fire Chief Kevin Coffelt.

The Rev. Ron Baker, left, retired pastor of the Southside Baptist Church in Fulton, Tuesday donated several years of accumulated pennies to a fund to finance a museum at the Missouri Fireman’s Memorial at Kingdom City. With him are Rodney Bax, center, of Bank Star One where the pennies were counted and Fulton Asssistant Fire Chief Kevin Coffelt. Photo by Don Norfleet.

“A penny saved is a penny earned.” — Benjamin Franklin

For the past 20 years, Fulton resident Ron Baker has been saving his pennies in a special jar, ultimately earning $200 to help build a Missouri Fire Fighters’ Museum next to the memorial in Kingdom City.

Baker kicked off a “Bucket Brigade” fundraising challenge Tuesday morning at Bank Star One for matching donations to help the Fire Fighters’ Historic Preservation Foundation of Missouri meet the projected $3.5 million cost for the museum.

“I got involved because I just saw it as something that had been a dream for a long time, and I thought maybe I could offer help,” said Baker, who recently was appointed by the foundation to spearhead fundraising for the project. “Basically I’m just trying to let people know that we’re here and this is what we’re doing.

“Every time firefighters go out, they put their lives on the line. This is just giving back to the service they provide.”

Baker came up with the Bucket Brigade idea as an analogy of the old fire bucket brigades in which volunteers would form a line from the site of the fire to the nearest source of water and pass buckets full of water to fight the fire.

“Thus it was a cooperative effort that saved property and lives,” Baker wrote in a press release. “The effort to build a firefighters’ museum will require grass roots support from the fire fighters as well as involvement by the community. The campaign will be asking people to ‘join the bucket brigade to build the Fire Fighters’ Museum.’”

Doc Kritzer, a retired volunteer firefighter and member of the Fire Fighters’ Historic Preservation Foundation, said the organization has been planning and working toward the goal of the museum since 2002.

He said the planned 22,000 sq. ft. museum would include displays of old fire equipment, archives from every fire department in the state and interactive displays where young visitors can learn about fire safety and prevention, as well as conference rooms for educational seminars and offices for the Fire Fighters’ Association of Missouri.

“We want to create a facility that will allow us to showcase the evolution of over 100 years of firefighting,” Kritzer said, noting there is a full scale model of the proposed museum at the visitor’s center in Kingdom City. “We want it to be a destination so people would stop there and learn about firefighting.”

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